I Saw The News

by Quinn

When I heard that Tony Blair had attacked the “justice gap”, I gave a foolish half cheer. I assumed he was attacking the phrase “justice gap”, a pointless PR mouthing that means precisely nothing, and so has inevitably been leapt upon by various institutions who proudly (and in all likelihood erroneously) boast that they are “narrowing the justice gap”. And it is always being narrowed, never cut (that is red tape) or reduced (you must be thinking of bureaucracy, or cholesterol). Just a feeling, but I bet the people who actually are helping to fight crime wouldn’t use a phrase like “justice gap” in a million years.

Of course I was wrong to get my hopes up. A phrase like “justice gap” is right up New Labour’s back alley; it was probably dreamt up by their head office and “cascaded” out to the various police force headquarters for them to use in their publicity campaigns and job adverts (but probably not used by the officer detaining a knife wielding offender on a Friday night). No, for Blair the phrase is something he truly believes in it, and my god will he use it! When he attacks the justice gap he attacks the perceived failure of the criminal justice system to match the tabloid rantings concerns of the “law abiding majority”; er, despite him having been in office for 9 years. Whether attacking the phrase or what he sees as the reality, Blair appears to be attacking himself.

But is there a justice gap anyway? We are continually told that crime levels are falling and have been for some time. Despite tabloid headlines screaming about soft judges there is some evidence that when told the full circumstances of a crime the general public would often be more lenient than many judges in fact are.

When discussing the justice gap let us consider yesterday’s BBC Ten O’clock News which covered the story. It has long been noticed that the producers of such programmes can’t just tell us the facts; when talking about crime they must show us some filmed footage of crime so the feeble minded among us know what they are talking about. So yes, we saw those library pictures, again, of those two young lads, again, smashing that window on that panel van and running off with that crate, again.

For me this is very encouraging. It must be 15 years ago when I first saw that same footage; the lads featured could even be grandparents by now. If the BBC has so little evidence of crime on film that they have to rely on a blurred and grainy image from yesteryear, then perhaps the justice gap isn’t as wide as some people fear.

While watching the news I also noticed this story concerning the foster couple who have been found guilty of sexual offences. The website has handled the story better, but the Ten O’clock News story and headline stressed that it was a gay foster couple who had been imprisoned. Now, looking through the story, I cannot see how the sexuality of the offenders is relevant, other than to perhaps confirm some people’s prejudices. Indeed the judge stressed that “this is not about homosexuality, it is about abuse of trust”, so what does the fact that the offenders are gay have to do with anything?

But I will be off now, as I am beginning to sound too much like Biased BBC (albeit Biased BBC tend not to bother about homophobic bias, too busy are they looking for a pro-Islamist or anti-Semitic slant to things; so perhaps I sound more like Biased BBC’s evil(?) twin).